Integrated Early Childhood Development




Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Early Childhood Education

Community Development and Empowerment


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod

The lack of access to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) is one of the major challenges affecting children under 5 and their caregivers in Cambodia. Disparities are stark between urban and rural areas. Almost 40 per cent of Cambodians living in rural areas do not have access to improved drinking water sources in the dry season and about 69 per cent do not have access to an improved toilet. About fifty per cent of people practice open defecation (CDHS 2014).

Safe drinking water, clean toilets and hygienic behaviour have a tremendous impact on children’s lives and are inextricably linked to their health and nutrition conditions. High occurrences of diarrhoea, which often result from poor sanitation and hygiene, are a major cause of childhood illnesses. A growing body of global evidence also indicates that sanitation is one of the key determinants of children’s development and has a particular effect on stunting (height-for-age) among children. 

Improving water and sanitation for children under 5 requires a holistic and systematic approach that targets caregivers, communities, pre-schools, schools and health centres.

UNICEF works with the Government and other stakeholders at the national and sub-national level to improve WASH facilities and practices for children under 5. UNICEF supports WASH activities in multiple settings, including in pre-schools and health facilities. UNICEF also works with the private sector to identify appropriate sanitation and water products that can be brought to the market to achieve sustainable results for children.

What We Do

  • Provide children under 5 years old and their caregivers with increased access to sustainable improved rural water supply, including in arsenic- and emergency-affected areas
  • Enhance positive behaviour change for children under 5 and increase access to sustainable improved sanitation in rural areas
  • Ensure better WASH for children under 5 and their caregivers in health care facilities, pre-schools and schools 
  • Provide technical support to the Government and local council members to analyse the risk of disasters and develop WASH-specific preparedness plans, focusing on villages affected by arsenic or recurring emergencies



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